There has been nothing short of a revolution in the way we do business over the past 20 years, thanks to the Internet. It’s killed some industry sectors, disrupted others, while at the same time creating new opportunities. Local entrepreneurs have come up with some amazing ways to take advantage of those opportunities, and they’ve also managed to adapt and hang on in the face of constant change.
Take, for example, Jerry Pearson. Jerry is owner of Pearson’s Travel, Baton Rouge’s oldest and only family owned full service travel agency.
Jerry has owned the agency since 1981, when he founded it as an offshoot of his Pearson’s Luggage and Gifts that he had opened in the 1970s.
Travel was different back then. And so was retail! But over the past 20 years, the internet has changed all that. Now, travelers can book their own flights and hotel stays online – or even plan their entire trip – and they don’t need to go into a brick and mortar store to buy a suitcase. Those are among the reasons Jerry closed his luggage store in the summer of 2021 and sold the building to a local healthcare company. But he continues to operate the travel agency, which – and this is in keeping with national trends – is doing well. Turns out, a lot of people don’t like dealing with Orbitz and Travelocity and, if you’re not on a tight budget, why not let an experienced professional navigate the hassles of booking a trip?
Nationwide, travel planners are proving themselves resilient in the age of online everything.
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s Chris Cummings. Chris is the owner of Pass It Down, an interactive storytelling platform with a library of templates and cloud-based interactives that companies, nonprofits or institutions can use to create digital storytelling experiences.
Chris founded the company in Baton Rouge-based company in 2015 after he saw his mother battle MS and early onset dementia and wanted to create a way to help his family and other families capture and pass down their memories. Since then, the company has evolved and grown. And from it Chris has created a new company – Iconic Moments. It’s the first NFT marketplace for museums and cultural institutions.
An NFT marketplace is what, exactly? It’s a digital platform where NFT’s can be stored, displayed, exchanged, and even minted or created. If you don’t know what an NFT is, exactly, and “Blockchain” makes your head hurt, Chris is an expert and also an attorney so he is really good at explaining things. He is also a seasoned entrepreneur.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at Mansurs on the Boulevard. Photos by Erik Otts. And check out more lunchtime conversation about the cheesy side of Baton Rouge with insta-pizza creator Speed Bancroft and cheeseboard wiz Robyn Nicosia.